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OPT OUT NEWS: Opt out Freak Out is hitting New York as movement spreads across New York City and throughout New York state

Unlike Chicago, New York City has a robust free press, and the result is that news stories and analysis critical of corporate school reform appear regularly in the city's newspapers (although rarely in the New York Post, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch). Hence, as the Opt Out movement grows, the Opt Out Freak Out in New York is also growing among school administrators in both the city and state. Unlike Chicago, where more than a dozen speakers from as many schools can be ignored in the official corporate censored versions of what took place at the March 26, 2014 Board of Education meeting, in New York attentive readers of the daily papers actually have a chance to learn something about what's really going on. So... Thanks to Diane Ravitch for publishing the following on her blog on March 29, 2014:

RAVTICH REPORTS MARCH 29, 2014:

The New York Daily News reports that the revolt among the state tests is growing among parents. State officials are doing whatever they can to tamp down the parent rebellion against the state's obsession with testing. No one at the State Education Department ever speaks of the "joy of learning," as New York City Chancellor Carmen Farina did when her appointment was announced. The state department seems to be filled with statisticians, bean counters, technocrats, and bureaucrats who never read for fun, never enjoyed learning, don't like learning. They love data. Data fill them with joy.

"...The revolt against the education overlords in Albany was gathering steam Thursday as parent organizers at Public School 368 in Harlem said they will not subject their kids to the annual English Language Arts (ELA) and math exams that begin next week.

Kimberly Casteline, whose 8-year-old son attends the school, said the tests are unfair.

A child can have a bad day, a child can be a bad test taker, said the Fordham University professor. Test taking does not equate to learning and thats where we're getting these two concepts conflated.

Casteline and the other refuseniks believe the emphasis on standardized exams takes the joy out of learning and forces teachers to teach to the tests.

I decided to opt my son out of the test after realizing that he was going to spend six valuable days of the school year taking the test, and even more days preparing for the test, Casteline said.

Jasmine Batista, who has two sons the school, said the test needlessly stressed out her 10-year-old.

He was concerned that he would not go on to the next grade, she said. He was crying, he had no appetite, he couldn't sleep. He was so happy when that test was done.

Now her 8-year-old is feeling the angst.

My third-grader is now also stressed out because of what he saw his older brother go through, she said.

Donnie Rotkin, a former public school teacher who is now an academic coach at two elementary schools in northern Manhattan, echoed the worried moms.

Too many schools spend weeks, months, narrowly focused on preparing kids for these tests, said Rotkin.

While surveys show that many public school parents share those sentiments, so far very few have yanked their kids out of the classroom on testing days.

Last year, 5,100 of the 1.2 million students who were supposed to take the tests statewide didn't do so, officials said.

He was crying, he had no appetite, he couldn't sleep. He was so happy when that test was done. State Education Department spokesman Dennis Tompkins defended the testing as one of many tools that should be used to measure student growth and help inform instruction.

The year, the parents of more than a million students across the state will opt-in to the state assessments, he said..

But the rebellions in schools like P.S. 368 are spreading across the city and gaining in strength, the anti-testing advocacy group Change the Stakes claims.

Administered for roughly one hour per day over six days, spread out over five weeks, the results are used in decisions to promote students, evaluate school performance and educators, and figure into bonuses for school staffers whose students do well on the tests.

There are no official consequences for the kids who opt out of the tests. Instead of being judged on how well they did on the standardized exams, they will be evaluated on their school work.



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